“We want to make extremely unique shoes that people don’t want to take off. From a picture, people might think, “Oh, you’re making espadrilles.” No, no we’re not. While our jute rope sole is inspired by the classic espadrille look found in many European countries, we have developed our shoes with the intention of providing a more unique, lightweight, comfortable, and superior alternative for the modern globetrotter.”
Meet Kilian Rosier, a 4th year McGill management student completing a major in Economics and a minor in Computer Science. As you can imagine, so far it has been a busy semester for Kilian as he is finishing up his final year at McGill, yet somehow he has managed to start his own business: Patara.
I asked Kilian to tell me about how Patara was born.
He explains that the idea for Patara came to him while traveling throughout Asia one summer. “Exploring the beautiful beaches one day and the exciting cities another, my brother, Christian, and I wanted one pair of versatile shoes that could be worn in multiple settings. Something that was casual, yet smart. We wanted a shoe that was both extremely lightweight and comfortable and could keep up with our various adventures. Combine this with a fair-trade aspect, and we felt we could create an appealing brand and an exceptional travel shoe.”
While this sounds like a very easy and smooth process, I spoke to Kilian about how they actually got their vision of Patara off the ground and running. As he explained, naturally, when you’re coming into a new industry with no experience, there are always people who are looking to take advantage of you and pull you in every which way. In spite of this, Kilian and Christian had their ups and downs, and at some points, they weren’t sure if everything was going to come together like they had envisioned it. However, as they began talking with several manufacturers, and after a lengthy search, they met some great people in Thailand that understood their vision and what they were trying to create.
“Eventually, they connected us with a small factory of craftsman that were capable of making our idea a reality. Furthermore, we are fortunate enough to have a strong network of friends that have been eager to help build and support our brand, which we are incredibly grateful for.” Not only have they gained crucial experience working with people around the world, but also since starting, they’ve learned a lot about manufacturing, logistics, marketing, and the overall footwear industry.
Like any product in the fashion industry, there are a lot of competing brands. I asked Kilian to highlight the traits that separate Patara from other shoe brands. He told me that Patara is focused on creating a sustainable business for everyone involved. Their shoes are handmade using quality fabrics from weaving collectives in Asia, India, and South America. “Because these materials make up a fair cost of the shoe, we are paying more than a high-volume factory elsewhere, and we’re okay with that! Our goal is to make shoes that are truly different from what’s out there.” In order to make this goal succeed, they produce each style of shoe in a limited quantity to ensure only a select few people have the same pair you do. For now they have started with a general theme around a jute sole, but they have many other ideas in the works.
As our interview came to a close, I asked Kilian about challenges and triumphs they’ve encountered thus far. He told me that for what they were trying to create, a lot of people said, “No way, you’re crazy to think you can make those types of shoes in limited runs. You’re going to have to make them at this price, these minimums, and only in these colourways.” As a small company right now, the biggest challenge they will face in the coming years is scaling appropriately. Although they are taking a non-traditional route to shoe manufacturing, they are confident that the groundwork they have laid down will allow them to grow accordingly and adapt without compromising quality.
This is a particularly exciting time for Kilian and Christian as they are six days into their Kickstarter campaign and have reached their 50% benchmark with over 130 people supporting their project. “My brother and I have put in an incredible amount of work getting this project ready for the public so if you like what we are creating, please check it out and learn more! We are very excited for the future and hope we keep getting the chance to make things we’re proud of.”
You can stay up-to-date with everything that is Patara on Instagram and Facebook!
Images provided by the interviewee.